One of the highlights of visiting Udon Thani province in northeastern Thailand is the so-called “Red Lotus Sea” or Talay Bua Daeng (ทะเลบัวแดง) in Thai. Really it is a lake and not a sea. Also, they are pink water-lilies and not red lotuses. But, regardless of these small details, it is an amazing sight that can be enjoyed during the cool season from late November until early March. The best time of day to visit is during the morning, the earlier the better when the water lilies are in full bloom. The best month is said to be in January when the lilies cover a much larger area. I went there recently at the end of November and was quite impressed with the amount of flowers. The weather was certainly perfect with a lovely cool breeze.
Nong Han Kumphawapi lake is still relatively unknown among foreign tourists. This is mainly because there is no direct public transport to the lake. This is despite it being only about an hour from Udon Thani city. If you do decide to explore this province, I would suggest hiring a car at the airport. That way you can visit some of the other out of the way destinations in the province. You can hire boats from a pier in Ban Diem, at the northern end of the lake (see google map below).
We arrived at the lake at about 8:00 am. I thought we were early but some people were already coming back from their trip across the lake. At the boat landing you have a choice of boats. The big boats can take up to eight people and cost 300 Baht for the short route and 500 Baht for the 90 minute longer route. We went for the latter. Alternatively, you can go on a smaller boat, like above and below, for 100 Baht per person for the shorter route and 150 Baht per person for the longer route.